A day reserved for Christmas Day leftovers, buffets and finishing off the last of those chocolate boxes, Boxing Day is a UK tradition which is now celebrated in a number of countries, and can also be known as ‘St Stephen’s Day. In other European regions, such as Hungary, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands and Scandinavia, Boxing Day is also celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.
There are quite a few competing theories for the origin of Boxing Day, but the most popular of all is that of the ‘Christmas Box’. In British history, it was custom for tradesmen and servants to collect ‘Christmas boxes’ of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas, as thanks for good service throughout the year. This tradition is first recorded in the diary of Samuel Pepys, way back in 1663. The custom is also linked to an even older British tradition; since the servants of the wealthy would have to wait on their Masters on Christmas Day, they were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home, containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.
Churches also played a part in the creation of Boxing Day. Throughout the year, they would take collections from churchgoers and hand it out to the poor at Christmas – on Boxing Day.
Christmas Day is now a football-free zone, but this wasn’t always the case. Back in the good old days, before TV, there would be a full programme of matches on 25 December.
But throughout the 1950s, attitudes toward playing sport on Christmas Day changed and the final Christmas Day football match took place in 1957, leaving Boxing Day as the traditional festive fixture.
Today, Boxing Day is much more associated with Christmas Sales. In the past, Boxing Day sales made it one of the busiest shopping days of the year. While it’s still immensely popular, the growth of big discounts right before Christmas, such as days like Black Friday, some of the limelight is taken from the post Christmas sales, and the retail industry has shifted its targets in recent years to match this.
Some stay home and shop the sales online, while many brave the shops. We know where we’ll be, and if you’re looking for some online Boxing Day sale inspo, may we recommend our friends…
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